The White House is "thumbing its nose" at one of the most fundamental American rights by not investigating allegations that the Justice Department wrongly abandoned a 2008 voter intimidation case, former Bush adviser Karl Rove charged on Friday.
In an interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly on 'America Live,' Rove accused White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs of "not telling the truth" when he said Thursday that he was not looking into allegations that the DOJ wrongly dismissed a case against the New Black Panther Party. He also accused the administration of "thumbing its nose at one of the most essential rights Americans have."
"Of course they're aware of this," Rove said. "I can't imagine that when the attorney general makes such a controversial decision, that they would have not discussed this with the White House."
Former Justice attorney J. Christian Adams testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Tuesday that his former employer not only abandoned the voter intimidation case for racial reasons last year, but had instructed attorneys in the civil rights division to ignore cases that involve black defendants and white victims.
Commissioner Ashley Taylor said the bipartisan panel investigating the allegations will send a letter as early as Wednesday calling for the Justice Department to open an investigation into Adams' charge. The letter will go to Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who in May told the panel to bring any such claims "to our attention" if there's evidence.
"I think (the testimony) provided the evidence of the policy he said he was unaware of," Taylor said, calling Adams' allegations "serious" and "shocking."
Gibbs, however, appeared to dismiss the New Black Panther case on Thursday, telling a reporter who questioned him on the matter that "I haven't paid any attention to it."
The case stemmed from an incident on Election Day in 2008 in Philadelphia, where members of the party were videotaped in front of a polling place dressed in military-style uniforms and allegedly hurling racial slurs while one brandished a night stick.
The Bush Justice Department brought the first case against three members of the group, accusing them in a civil complaint of violating the Voter Rights Act. The Obama administration initially pursued the case, winning a default judgment in federal court in April 2009 when the Black Panther members did not appear in court. But then the administration moved to dismiss the charges the following month after getting one of the New Black Panther members to agree to not carry a "deadly weapon" near a polling place until 2012.
In a statement Tuesday, a Justice spokesman said the civil rights division determined "the facts and the law did not support pursuing claims" against the two other defendants and denied Adams' allegations.
"The department makes enforcement decisions based on the merits, not the race, gender or ethnicity of any party involved. We are committed to comprehensive and vigorous enforcement of both the civil and criminal provisions of the federal laws that prohibit voter intimidation," the spokesman said.